I AM THE ” MUST SEE” DISCIPLE (John 11:16: 14:5; 20:24-29)
I have been labeled, unfairly, as the “doubting Thomas.” If you had lived during my time and had any sense; you, too, would have wanted proof for what was happening. We just went through the tragedy of losing the Man who was to be the Messiah that would restore the fortunes of Israel. Instead, He was betrayed by one of us and taken from us by brutal force. He was sentenced to death as one of the worst criminals in our history. And then, He was crucified hung on a shameful cross. During all this time, we who were brave with our mouths, ran and hid. When I decided to drop in on them one evening, they were telling me that I had missed the experience of a lifetime. They had seen Jesus alive in the flesh and I had not. How do you think I felt when I heard such an impossible and unbelievable tale? I believed in facts and not fairytales. I am one that must see in order to believe. And I could not, in good conscience, believe what these people were telling me that had demonstrated nothing but cowardice and disloyalty. They had a yellow streak in them. Let me refresh your minds. Lazarus had died. Jesus decided to go and resurrect him. All Jesus’ followers, except I, counseled against Him going up to Jerusalem. I was the only one that urged them on to go and die with Him. I was not afraid to die for our Christ. Now, they were trying to tell me that a dead man was alive and He had called on them. It seemed, to me, that they were making me feel guilty. Had I been hiding with them, I too would have seen the Lord.
There was no way I would buy their tale. I told them plainly that they would have to do better than give me some story that just could not be proven. It so happened that I had followed Jesus to the cross and I saw what they had done to Him. I saw the soldiers driving nails through His Hands and one of them drove a spear into His Side. That is why I demanded to see the nail prints in His Hands. I wanted more. I wanted to put my finger where the nails were and touch His side, where He was pierced, before I believed. Was that asking too much and did that qualify me as a professional doubter? And would I do it all over again? The answer is, “Yes!” There is too much make-belief in this world. Too many rumors are taken for granted as facts. I could not live that way and I know that the world is full of people like me. Pretenders, as emissaries of God, had misled us for too often. Now, if Jesus was different and had power over death, it should be a small matter for Him to help, my kind, to believe in Him. My kind cannot live on second-hand information. We must see for ourselves. We had far too many disappointments. Our trust in men, with a promise of some utopia, had grown dim. From where I stood, this looked like another one of our shattered dreams.
The impossible did happen. If anyone understood, my desire for first-hand knowledge, then Jesus did, for He was the Lord. He complied with my wishes. We had clashed before. Just before He was apprehended and sentenced to death, He was telling us that He was going to a place and that we knew the way and where He was headed. The truth was that no one, among us, understood His riddling. All of us were puzzled by what Jesus was saying. The language, He was using, was equally strange. The sad part was that we were all afraid to ask because, in the past, we had asked the wrong questions. I just could not let it go and popped up, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, how then can we know the way?” To our surprise, Jesus was not surprised. It was as if He had anticipated one of us to ask for directions. Then, and only then, for the first time His direction was crystal clear for me. He, Himself, was our Way, our Truth and our Life. If we do what He did, we too would meet up in heaven. Once I had taken the courage to ask, Philip asked Jesus to tell us how He and the Father in heaven were related. Because of these questions, Jesus was specific in His answers with us. Unfortunately, we had neglected to ask more questions of Him while we were in His Company. We behaved as if Jesus would stay forever with us. Yet, He warned us, over and over, that His time with us was brief and temporary.
A week later, Jesus reappeared. He stretched His Hands out to me and offered to be touched. Then, Jesus told me to stop doubting. I fell down before Him and called Him, “My Lord and my God.” What He said next was not just for me, but also for all people with my attitude. “You believe because you see me, but blessed are those that have not seen yet believe.” It was a lesson on faith for a man that did not want posterity to know his name. Thomas is not a name. It means “a twin” in Aramaic. The Greek has “Didymus.” I was a twin and those that knew me called me, “Twin.” There was another reason why I was the twin. I tried to be someone I was not. Like Jacob of old, I tried to free myself from the shadow of someone that came before me. I was not a good follower. I had too many apprehensions about being led. I think that is why Jesus wanted me in His group. Through me, Jesus could teach the others not to be like me. I was not a “Yes” person. I was, “A show me how person.” I wanted to know for myself. On matters of utmost importance, I would not trust my own brother. I had to be shown by the one that originated the fact. In this case, it was Jesus who had to prove, to me, that He was both Lord and God. It is because of me that we know Jesus as the only way to the Father. Just think, if I had not asked that question and not insisted on seeing Jesus for myself?